As part of our series exploring publishers’ eCommerce efforts for our latest report, Damian Radcliffe charts Marie Claire’s journey into salons, stores and more.
Originally launched in France in 1937, Marie Claire has expanded into a global brand. According to the milestones shared on their Facebook page, the US edition launched in 1994, with international editions for other markets (such as Japan in 2012) later coming on stream.
The most recent edition, Marie Claire Argentina went live at the end of February 2019, produced in partnership with the Buenos Aires based Perfil Group. The monthly print edition will also be available in Chile, Uruguay, Paraguay and Bolivia.
Globally, Marie Claire spans 29 markets and engages and connects with more than 75 million women around the world. This includes 35 million unique users, as well as “29 million social savvy fans and 11 million readers.”
The Marie Claire brand has been expanded to include the Marie Claire@work platform and extended now in many markets, (this sub-brand began as an inserted supplement for U.S. readers in November 2011, and which has subsequently included events), as well as Marie Claire Powertrip, a conference for women executives.
Launched first in the USA, then Brazil and Greece, attendees at the last month’s 2019 US Powertrip heard from a wide variety of speakers, such as Hollywood actresses Daisy Ridley and Regina King. Participants also heard from leading women in Silicon Valley: Fidji Simo, who heads up the Facebook app (having previously been responsible for Video, Games and Monetization at the social network,) Stephanie Hallford, VP and general manager of business client platforms at Intel, and Kelli Hodges, director of product marketing at Dell’s commercial business unit.
“The goal of this [Powertrip] was to build Marie Claire live and see this community interact,” editor in chief Anne Fulenwider told WWD last year.
Marie Claire is described by Hearst, which publishes the U.S. edition as “the global women’s leadership brand that connects confident, influential and successful women. Fuelling her discovery of fashion, beauty, and career, and delivering the socially conscious journalism she loves, Marie Claire is authentically committed to celebrating the richness and scope of women’s lives.”
Other Marie Claire brand extensions include: Marie Claire Maison, Marie Claire Enfants (Kids), Marie Claire Accessories, Marie Claire Fashion Shows, Marie Claire Beauty, Marie Claire Fashion Shows, Marie Claire Weddings, Marie Claire Monsieur, Marie Claire Travel and Marie Claire Idées.
Marie Claire UK launches an online fashion aggregator
In September 2019, Marie Claire UK announced plans to go digital only. Having launched in 1988, its final print edition is their November 2019 edition. The new digital-first Marie Claire UK will be published under a licence agreement with Groupe Marie Claire.
Prior to this, based on figures shared with What’s New In Publishing, Marie Claire UK reached 4.6 million women a month across 10 different platforms including print, online, social and events, as of August 2019.
Explaining the move to a digital-only presence, a spokeswoman for the publication told the BBC that “consumers and advertisers have accelerated their move to digital alternatives,” noting the impact of changes in display advertising on their business model.
“Across the fashion and beauty sector, print display was down (25%) in 2018 and continues to decline at rates in excess of (30%) in 2019,” they said. “A strategy focusing on Marie Claire UK’s digital business will give the brand the best opportunity to secure a profitable and sustainable future,” they added.
At the heart of this strategy is the further development of their online fashion aggregator platform: Marie Claire Edit.
Launched in November 2018, the site partnered with major brands such as including Farfetch, Selfridges, ASOS, Topshop, NET-A-PORTER and MATCHESFASHION.COM. Consumers can shop by category (via the “Shop” tab on the main website), as well as select from items hand-picked by members of the team. “All stock is updated daily too, so you know you’ll be on trend no matter what,” they promised.
Alongside this, Marie Claire Edit also stated that they would make a yearly donation Plan International UK, a children’s charity focused on advancing children’s rights and equality for girls all over the world.
The business model, as The Media Post outlined, is pretty simple. “Marie Claire gets a cut of the purchases via affiliate links, adding revenue from new native formats and social campaigns.” Marie Claire UK also operates an extensive voucher and discount page site, Marie Claire Vouchers which can offer another potential route to engage with Marie Claire UK consumers.
Promoting this pivot to eCommerce to potential brand partners, a press release announcing the initiative explained:
“Under the strapline ‘Shop the brands you love. Fashion Editor approved’, Marie Claire Edit offers a key endorsement angle for brands, with a Marie Claire Edit approved badge for items carefully selected by Marie Claire’s Fashion Experts. It also offers a new point of purchase, leveraging Marie Claire’s digital reach in fashion, which delivers strong SEO by targeting all long-tail keyword shopping terms.”
By Summer 2019, just nine months after launch, it was revealed that the platform now offers products from over 6,000 brands and 40 UK and European stores and e-tailers. Marie Claire Edit is expected to “soon become the brand’s biggest source of digital revenue.”
The financial success of the venture can be seen in data shared by the company in August 2019, which identified that the site has a 6% conversion rate and an average basket size of £397 pounds ($478 dollars).
Further figures shared with What’s New In Publishing indicate that Marie Claire drives £2 million a month in fashion sales for retailers across their different platforms.
Describing the move, a spokesperson told What’s New In Publishing:
“The Marie Claire Edit is a natural progression for us and really demonstrates the power of the Marie Claire brand to drive digital transactions. We’ve tried to anticipate the way women will want to both discover and shop and leveraging Marie Claire’s expertise in curating the latest trends and making them shoppable direct from Marie Claire UK’s website, the Marie Claire Edit serves the entire e-commerce journey, from the spark of inspiration through to check-out.”
With Future – a leading UK-based eCommerce publisher in its own right, planning to buy TI Media, which publishes Marie Claire UK, Country Life and Wallpaper* magazines, we can confidently expect Marie Claire UK to delve further into the eCommerce arena.
Other eCommerce efforts
Marie Claire Edit was not the first attempt by the UK site to more into the eCommerce space.
In 2016, Marie Claire UK launched premium beauty store, Fabled by Marie Claire, in a joint venture with the online British supermarket Ocado. The site, which also has a physical store on London’s Tottenham Court Road, was sold to the fashion retailer Next in June 2019.
“Next and Fabled have collaborated over the past 8 months and, as a result of this collaboration, Next decided to acquire Fabled,” a press release for the acquisition said.
“Next acquired Fabled for a small upfront payment and an earn-out based on sales in each of the four years ending Jan 2021 – Jan 2024, with a minimum guaranteed payment of £3m, Reuters reported. “The deal represents a present value (PV) to Ocado of £8m as a result of future expected earnings.”
Marie Claire has recently announced its third major brand extension; Marie Claire Jet Style, which is opening its first salon in Kings Cross at the end of November in collaboration with renowned hair, retail and business entrepreneur Steph Stevenson.
The hair and beauty salon is designed for time-poor working women when they’re travelling. Over 215 salons are planned internationally over the next two years, located primarily in stations and airports.
Marie Claire is also exploring forays into emerging international markets too.
Marie Claire Paris, launched its first Salon Wellness franchise in Banjara Hills, Hyderabad (India) towards the end of 2018. It now has three locations in the city; and has also expanded into New Delhi. Salon services include Hair, Makeup, Bridal, Skin and Beauty.
Prior to this, back in 2016, Marie Claire Paris ventured into the Indian market through a licensing arrangement with Epic Brands Pvt. Ltd and the online Indian fashion e-commerce company Myntra for a prêt collection (ready-to-wear factory-made clothing).
Stéphanie Ertzbischoff, the brand Licensing Manager, Groupe Marie Claire, explained at the time that “designers of Epic Brand worked together with the Marie Claire designers at Paris to create this line of apparel.”
Meanwhile, Marie Claire Australia launched an app on the social media platform WeChat, in early 2019, aimed at Chinese consumers.
Gereurd Roberts, CEO of Pacific Magazines, which publishes the Australian edition said:
“This initiative highlights not only how Pacific’s brands continue to find innovative ways to help our commercial partners reach new audiences, but the company’s ambition and drive to grow…. The Marie Claire WeChat mini-app is only one component of our wider strategy to reach Chinese luxury consumers, and there is more planned for the coming months.”
As more publishers look to expand into emerging markets like India and China, we can expect others to follow Marie Claire’s suit.